2009 Aussie Millions Event 1, $1,100 NLHE Day 2: Christian Heich Grabs Ring
Out of a record 731 entrants, only 110 players returned to the Crown Casino in Melbourne for Day 2 of the 2009 Aussie Millions Event #1, $1,100 No Limit Hold'em. Dean Blatt was the chip leader starting the day and parlayed his big starting stack into a seat at the final table, but it was Germany's Christian Heich who emerged from the day as the victor and the first winner of one of the new Aussie Millions championship rings.
The chips began to fly as soon as the day began, with several notable players heading to the rail early. Local favorites Eric Assadourian, David Saab and Jamie Pickering all busted in the early going on Day 2. Emad Tahtouh also found the rail before the money bubble burst when his pocket fours fell short against Kim Fjastad's when Fjastad caught an ace on the river. Daniel Mulgrew lost a big coin flip for his tournament life when he moved all in preflop with pocket queens and was called by James Owens, who tabled . The flop of left Mulgrew drawing thin, but when no queen came on the turn or river, Mulgrew was busted in 73rd place, and the money bubble was burst.
The flow of eliminations was steady throughout the afternoon as the field winnowed down to the final table. Mel Judah busted in 42nd when Clint Jordanou caught a three-out jack () on the river to bust Judah's with his . Judah was crippled after that hand and busted shortly after, collecting AU $3,290 for his finish. Martin Cardno made a bold steal attempt when he moved all in from late position with . Eventual champion Christian Heich sniffed out the steal, and called with . The board missed both players as Cardno headed to the rail in 23rd (AU $5,482).
Steve Topakas put himself in good position to make the final table when he busted Dhiya Majeed (17th, AU $6,579) and Thomas Lindbjerg (16th, AU $6,579) in one big hand. Majeed moved all in from the button, and Lindbjerg moved all his chips in from the small blind without a second's hesitation. Topakas barely let their chips get into the middle before moving all his chips in as well. Topakas was well in the lead with his pocket kings, while Majeed tabled . Lindbjerg was running in third with . The flop brought an inside straight draw for Majeed when it came down . The turn was the , and when the fell on the river, Topakas collected two scalps and a big pile of chips as the final table neared.
When Naz Sibaei busted in 11th place (AU$6,579) the decision was made to condense to one table of ten players rather than play hand-for-hand on two short tables. The final-table seating assignments looked like this:
Seat 1: Scott Peters (134,000)
Seat 2: Christian Heich (596,000)
Seat 3: Steve Topakas (446,000)
Seat 4: Dean Blatt (113,000)
Seat 5: Sam Khouiss (176,000)
Seat 6: Clint Jordanou (204,000)
Seat 7: David Griffiths (674,000)
Seat 8: Steve Bouya (750,000)
Seat 9: Ismail Ismail (80,000)
Seat 10: Paul Rochford (490,000)
Tournament officials backed the clock up one full level to give the players more room in their stacks, and the final ten headed off to a dinner break.
Ismail Ismail came back from dinner as the shortest stack at the final table and quickly busted in tenth place (AU $6,579). When he peeked down at , Ismail moved all in preflop, and found action from Paul Rochford and Christian Heich. The live players checked the flop, and the turn brought the . Rochford led out with a bet, and Heich folded. Ismail was drawing dead once Rochford showed for the full house. The on the river was irrelevant, and Ismail became the first casualty of the final table.
Scott Peters was the next to fall when his couldn't hold up against Christian Heich's on a board of . Peters picked up AU$9,403 for his ninth-place finish. Overnight chip leader Dean Blatt busted in eighth place (AU $11,965) when he got the last of his chips in the middle against Paul Rochford and Christian Heich preflop. Rochford opened with a raise from the cutoff, Heich called from the button and Blatt called all in for less from the big blind. Heich and Rochford checked down the board of , and the players tabled their hands. Rochford's missed the board for ace-high, as did Blatt's . Heich tabled for the only pair and dragged the pot as Blatt headed to the rail.
Heich soon busted David Griffiths in seventh place (AU $16,130). After an early-position raise from Heich, Griffiths moved all in from the button with . Heich snap-called with , and needed to fade an ace to bust Griffiths. The board obliged as it ran out , and Griffiths was done.
Clint Jordanou lost a battle of kickers to Steve Bouya to exit in sixth place (AU $25,585). Jordanou raised preflop, and Bouya was the lone caller to a flop of . Jordanou moved all in immediately on the flop, and Bouya called just as quickly. Jordanou showed for two pair, and Bouya had him outkicked with . Jordanou needed an ace, nine, jack or deuce to stay alive, and the turn brought only the . When the came on the river, Jordanou's tournament was over.
Sam Khouiss kicked off 2009 with a final table in Event #1, but busted in fifth place to Christian Heich. Khouiss got all his chips in good with , as Heich tabled . The flop was no good for either player, but the turn made a pair for Heich and left Khouiss looking for help on the river. Khouiss needed to make his open-ended straight draw or catch a seven, but the river made two pair for Heich as Khouiss collected AU $36,550 for his run.
Paul Rochford got his money in the middle on the very next hand, and again it was Heich who notched the knockout. Rochford raised from the button with pocket tens, and Heich re-raised from the small blind. Steve Topakas got out of the way in the big blind, and Rochford moved all in. Heich called instantly and tabled . Rochford was drawing extremely thin, and the flop didn't add any draws to his two outs. When the turn and river ran out and , Rochford was done in fourth (AU $51,170).
Steve Topakas finally got in the elimination game when he bounced Steve Bouya in third place (AU$73,100). Bouya moved all in preflop with , and Topakas instantly called with . Bouya picked up a straight draw on the flop, but when the turn and river ran out , he was done and the tournament moved to heads-up action for the title. Steve Topakas took a slight chip lead into heads-up play as the chip stacks looked like this:
Steve Topakas: 1,975,000
Christian Heich: 1,690,000
Despite starting behind, Christian Heich's aggressive play soon moved him into the lead, and after just a few hands Heich had shifted the momentum into his corner and opened up a 2:1 margin. Topakas drew close, fell back, and finally fell short in one big hand to decide it all. In the final hand, Topakas called a preflop raise from Heich with , and then called a bet on the flop. Topakas check-raised all in on the turn, and Heich quickly called. Heich tabled for a flopped set, as Topakas held a double-gutshot draw to stay alive. The river brought the , which sent Topakas out as the runner-up with AU $110,380 for his run.
Christian Heich eliminated most of his final-table opponents himself on the way to his Event #1 triumph. For his tournament, Heich collected AU $150,000 and the Aussie Millions gold championship ring.